Fira Walking Tour (Self Guided), Santorini

Although widely known as Santorini, the famous Greek island in the Aegean Sea is officially called Thira or Thera. It is the alternative pronunciation of the latter that gives Santorini's modern capital Fira its name.

Founded at the end of the 18th century, the city is built on the "eyebrow" of the 400-meter high caldera on the western edge of the semi-circular island. From this clifftop visitors can enjoy panoramic views of the 18 kilometer- (11 mile-) long caldera itself, the still-active volcanic island Nea Kameni and Thirassia, as well as large cruise ships anchoring in the small harbor between Nea Kameni and Fira.

The two main museums in the city include the Archaeological Museum of Thera, showcasing exhibits covering the long period of the island's history, from the archaic to the Roman era, and the Museum of Prehistoric Thera, displaying items from the destroyed Bronze Age settlement of Akrotiri, including wall paintings and ceramics. Nearby is the whitewashed Metropolitan Cathedral of Ypapanti, built on the site of an earlier church destroyed in the 1956 Amorgos earthquake.

Apart from this Orthodox Cathedral, the town also hosts the seat of the Catholic Diocese of Santorini – the Baroque-style Cathedral of Agios Ioann (St. John the Baptist Cathedral), plus a number of other churches, such as the Three Bells of Fira.

For a closer look into these and other attractions of Fira, take this self-guided walking tour.
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Fira Walking Tour Map

Guide Name: Fira Walking Tour
Guide Location: Greece » Santorini (See other walking tours in Santorini)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 8
Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.7 Km or 1.7 Miles
Author: max
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • Santorini Old Harbor
  • Archaeological Museum of Thera
  • Orthodox Metropolitan Cathedral
  • Museum of Prehistoric Thera
  • 25 Martiou Street
  • Megaro Gyzi Cultural Center & Museum
  • St. John the Baptist Cathedral
  • Three Bells of Fira
1
Santorini Old Harbor

1) Santorini Old Harbor

The Old Harbor was formed by volcanic activity in 1650 BC. It used to serve all of Santorini until the Athinos Port was established. The nautical haven is a harbor for cruise ship travelers, while the other harbor handles ferry and commercial boats. Originally, the only way one could reach the harbor was by travelling the hundreds of steps that lead to it.

The most affordable way to travel to Old Harbor, in first class style, is by the Blue Star Ferry. The trip will take nine hours. Passengers will be picked up from the transport and delivered to their destination by smaller vessels, since cruise ships do not anchor at the harbor.

The waterfront has many shops, restaurants, and taverns that you will enjoy. The best way to travel to the top is by cable car, which takes no more than five minutes and offers a pleasant view of the area. Donkeys, a tradition from the past, are also available for those who are afraid of heights. For the truly fit, a hike up the mountain’s 580 steps is a healthy adventure. During the summer months, tours are offered to the nearby volcano and hot springs. The spot is a popular destination, with as many as 80,000 visitors travelling through the port each day in peak season.
2
Archaeological Museum of Thera

2) Archaeological Museum of Thera

No one can deny the richness of Greek culture or the influence it has had on the civilizations of the world. Western philosophy, art, science, education, and sports all have roots in Ancient Greece. The Archaeological Museum of Thera is an exhibition hall that features sculptures and inscriptions from the Archaic to the Roman periods. When you visit, you will take a trip back in time and experience history at its finest.

It also has a collection of vases and clay figurines from the Geometric to the Hellenistic periods. The gallery was established in 1902 by the Ministry of Public Works. In 1960, the building was reconstructed to replace the structure that collapsed during the 1956 earthquake.

Although not as stunning as the National Archaeological Museum in Athens, the museum is nonetheless special and interesting. What makes the gallery unique is that its vast and fine collection comes from excavations on the island.

Some of the most important items from the exhibitions include the Theran Amphora with Geometric Decoration, the Volcanic (Trachyte) Boulder, the Upper Part of an Archaic Funerary Kouros, the Torso of an Archaic Funerary Kouros, the Clay Daedalic Figurine, and the Attic Black-Figure Kylix.

Tip:
You can buy a combination ticket for Akrotiri, the Archaeological Museum of Thera and the Museum of Prehistoric Thera.
Unfortunately, at this museum, the descriptions of the items are in French and Greek with no English translation.

Opening Hours:
Tue-Sun: 8:30am-3pm (Nov-Mar / Apr 4-Oct); closed on Mondays
3
Orthodox Metropolitan Cathedral

3) Orthodox Metropolitan Cathedral

Greek Orthodox churches are known for their detailed design, distinctive iconography, and beauty. When you enter a house of worship, you will feel as if you have stepped into a world of vibrant colour and light that is accented by icons, art, and stained glass.

The Orthodox Metropolitan Cathedral in Thera, also known as the Church of Ypapantis, was originally built in the 19th century by M. Belloni in 1827. The house of worship, that we see today, was rebuilt after the devastating earthquake of 1956.

Beautiful white arches and arcades decorate the building that sits atop a cliff. The pièce de résistance is the white dome that tops the building and the bell tower. The building is a prominent landmark that can be seen by all from many other Santorini landmarks. Among the works of art that one should view are the frescoes by local artist, Christoforos Asimis, the beautiful mosaics added to the building in 1975, as well as the magnificent main chandelier.

Accommodations close to the cathedral include the Santorini Island Hotels, the Panorama Studios and Suites, the Pantelia, the Anemomilos Villa, the Blue Angel, the Reverie Traditional Apartments, the Vallas, the Golden Star, the Pavlina, and the Evgenia.

Tip:
Free to enter, but offerings welcome and there is a requirement that you are modestly dressed. Try to pick a quiet time.
4
Museum of Prehistoric Thera

4) Museum of Prehistoric Thera (must see)

The Museum of Prehistoric Thera allows one to take a step back in time to explore ancient civilizations. The exhibition hall’s collection comes from excavations of ancient Akrotiri and other sites around the Aegean Islands. If you have a strong interest in the prehistoric, this is the place for you. The exhibition hall opened in 2000.

The museum’s collection is organized into four areas, research, geology, the history of the island from the early 17th century BC, and the mature Late Cycladic I period. Although the gallery is very small, it is very well organized and manages to present an interesting mix of artifacts.

Pottery cups, plant fossils, jewelry, jars, marble figures, and plaster casts of furniture, household equipment, tools, and weapons are some of the many items that you will see. Two recommend items to not miss are the frescoes that show Minoans gathering saffron stamens from blooming crocuses and the painted swallows that migrated to the cliffs each year. Other impressive items include wall paintings of the Ladies and Papyri and the Blue Monkeys.

Why You Should Visit:
To enjoy what many experts rated as one of the most important museums in the world since it uniquely shows ordinary everyday life in an Ancient city and civilization buried 3700 years ago, almost 1800 years before Pompei! Everything this museum houses demonstrates how advanced and artistic this ancient civilization was, before being displaced by a major eruption of the island's volcano.

Tip:
Highly recommended in combination with a visit to the archaeological excavations in Akrotiri, where the objects were dug out. You can purchase combination tickets to visit this museum as well as the Akrotiri site.

Opening Hours:
Wed-Mon: 8:30am-3pm; closed on Tuesdays
5
25 Martiou Street

5) 25 Martiou Street

Thira is famous for its small stores, boutiques, workshops, souvenir and gift shops. This neighborhood is teeming with venues that offer unique handcrafted masterpieces or cheap souvenirs. Multitudes of postcards and souvenirs of all kinds can also be found almost anywhere on the streets, 25 Martiou Street being the most important hub.
6
Megaro Gyzi Cultural Center & Museum

6) Megaro Gyzi Cultural Center & Museum

Housed in a 17th-century mansion that formerly belonged to the Venetian family Gyzi, the Megaro Gyzi Cultural Center features a rich collection of objects that reflect local life from the 15th, 16th, 19th, and 20th centuries. It was founded in 1980 by the Catholic Episcopate of Thera.

Among the treasures, visitors will enjoy 15th-century engravings that depict Cycladic landscapes, private documents from the Catholic Episcopate of Thera archives, pictures from the 1930s through the 1950s by photographer Vikentios Pintos, geological findings, and paintings from well-known Greek artists.

The center hosts concerts, theatrical performances, and films. It is also home to exhibitions, such as the Greek Orthodox Katerina Ioannido Icons Workshop. One of the most prominent events that take place at the center is the International Piano Recital.

The best time to visit is during the Megano Gyzi Festival, which occurs annually in August. The event features a series of music concerts, art, painting exhibitions, and theatrical performances.

For those who wish to take a little bit of the Cultural Centre Megaro Gyzi home with them, the local museum shop sells replicas of the many books, photo albums, art, and lithographs.

Why You Should Visit:
The photos and paintings will help you get other perspectives of the Thera island through the years.
Staff is friendly, entry fee is modest, and the place's special architecture inspires some respect.

Opening Hours:
Mon-Sat: 10am-4pm (May 1-Oct 31)
Free entry for children under 10 years old
7
St. John the Baptist Cathedral

7) St. John the Baptist Cathedral (must see)

One cannot help but notice the beautiful grand churches and cathedrals that decorate the landscape of the island known as Thera or Fira. They are as much part of the community as are the many lava remnants. Dedicated to St. John the Baptist, the Catholic Cathedral of Santorini is a handsome and unique place of worship. Its peach exterior contrasts with the many white and blue domed churches that dot the landscape of this quaint, yet beautiful town. It was built in the 17th century by the Jesuit monks, missionaries of the Apostolic Order.

Santorini has experienced a lot of seismic activity throughout its existence. An earthquake in 1956 completely destroyed the previous church. The house of worship that we may enjoy today was restored and opened in 1975.

You will be impressed by the exquisiteness of the structure with its magnificent clock tower and accompanying bells. Once you enter the place of worship, you will find the confessional that is located to the side. The interior is eye-catching and features blue, orange, and cream accents throughout the building. A striking chandelier hangs below a religious painting, which is featured on a domed ceiling, and spectacular arches border the framed portraits of religious figures. Located on an island that the crusaders visited, this cathedral is simply stunning.

Why You Should Visit:
Not only do you experience the architecture of the island, but also, you may find a narrow street where all the souvenir shops are located, and you can eat a typical, local gyro as you look around the shops.

Tip:
You'll probably feel at ease attending a Sunday mass here (10am), as most attendees are usually tourists and there are parts where you may even recite in your own language instead of Greek, as there are many languages represented among the congregation.

Opening Hours:
Daily: 10am-1pm / 5-8pm
8
Three Bells of Fira

8) Three Bells of Fira (must see)

The Three Bells of Fira, officially known as The Catholic Church of the Dormition, is a Greek Catholic church on the island of Santorini. The church is famed for its three bells, blue dome, and picturesque views. The building is located in the town of Fira, directly above the cliffs which dominate western Santorini.

The site of the modern Three Bells of Fira has been occupied by a number of other buildings. In the mid-17th century, two modest cave churches were built into the-then solid cliff face. These churches were eventually destroyed as the cliff receded (due to the ongoing expansion of Fira) and an infirmary was built. This building was eventually occupied by Jesuits, who lived on the site until the land was given to the Diocese of Santorini.

The current church was built in 1757, and then refurbished and expanded multiple times over the centuries. The structure was heavily damaged in the 1956 Amorgos earthquake, after which the building was restored.

The church's feast day is 15 August.
Sight description based on wikipedia

Walking Tours in Santorini, Greece

Create Your Own Walk in Santorini

Create Your Own Walk in Santorini

Creating your own self-guided walk in Santorini is easy and fun. Choose the city attractions that you want to see and a walk route map will be created just for you. You can even set your hotel as the start point of the walk.
Oia Walking Tour

Oia Walking Tour

The main attraction of Santorini island, Oia is a scenic coastal town hanging on the northwestern tip of the rugged clifftop overlooking the Aegean Sea. The idyllic setting of narrow alleyways and white-washed, blue-domed churches is complemented by charming, traditional Cycladic houses built on the lip of the caldera (volcanic crater filled with water) as well as cave homes in the niches carved...  view more

Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.0 Km or 0.6 Miles
Firostefani and Imerovigli Walking Tour

Firostefani and Imerovigli Walking Tour

Away from the crowded Fira yet close to the famous Santorini caldera, there are two small settlements: Firostefani and Imerovigli. Each of these gorgeous neighborhoods has something unique to offer, and thus represents an attraction in its own right.

The quaint village of Firostefani, whose name translates as "The Crown of Fira", is now considered a suburb of Santorini's capital,...  view more

Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.3 Km or 1.4 Miles